US, S.Korea, Japan condemn N.Korea’s ballistic missile launches; urge dialogue

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top diplomats of the United States, South Korea and Japan on Wednesday condemned North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches and urged Pyongyang to engage in “substantive dialogue without preconditions,” they said in a joint statement.


North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Monday that has a range to hit anywhere in the United States, said South Korea and Japan, marking its second launch in hours as Pyongyang condemned a U.S.-led show of force.

The missile has a potential to travel more than 15,000 km (9,300 miles), meaning it can reach anywhere in Japan and the mainland United States, Japan’s Parliamentary Vice Minister of Defence Shingo Miyake said on Monday.


“The United States, Japan, and the ROK (South Korea) stand together in opposition to the DPRK’s (North Korea’s) continued development of its unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Park Jin said.

“The unannounced launches also threatened the safety of civil aviation and maritime traffic in the region,” the top diplomats added. They urged North Korea to “stop conducting further provocations and accept our call for engaging in substantive dialogue without preconditions.”


The United States and South Korea have increased the intensity of joint military drills against rising threats from the North, which had tested a range of ballistic missiles and in November launched its first military spy satellite.

North Korea says it has a sovereign right to operate a ballistic missile programme for self defence and rejects a United Nations Security Council ban, which it says is a product of hostile U.S. policy.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said Pyongyang would not hesitate to launch a nuclear attack if an enemy provokes it with nuclear weapons, according to state media.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Sandra Maler and Michael Perry)